Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers

Spiegel & Grau. Aug. 2023. 15:45 hrs. ISBN 9781669661740. $27.99. MEMOIR
New York Times theater critic Green offers an extensively annotated compilation of the no-holds-barred memoirs of composer and writer Mary Rodgers (1931–2014). As the daughter of Broadway composer Richard Rodgers (of Rodgers & Hammerstein fame), Mary had a front-row seat to the New York theater scene. Rodgers herself is best known for her musical compositions for 1959’s Once Upon a Mattress and 1966’s The Mad Show, in addition to her 1972 YA novel Freaky Friday. Seen through the lens of her artistic endeavors, her boldly comprehensive memoirs span from her parents’ marriage in the early 1900s through the mid-2010s. Rodgers briefly touches on her songwriting experience but focuses heavily on her life’s journey, with its complex relationships, two marriages, six children, and career feats and failures. No topic is off-limits, and few are spared her biting critique. Emmy and Tony Award winner Christine Baranski shines as narrator, fully encapsulating Rodgers’s brashness and honesty. Opposite her, and equally witty, is author Green, who narrates the footnotes. Their rhythm and fluidity create conversational transitions between the memoirs and the footnotes.
VERDICT For musical theater enthusiasts, historians, and those interested in the Rodgers family legacy. Share, too, with fans of Baranski’s work.
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